Winter Skincare Tips


Winter Skincare Guide

Temperatures dipped to sub-40 today and we know what that means…time to transition to winter skincare! The dry air, heavy winds, and heaters on full blast at home wreak havoc on our skin and lips, making them more sensitive and prone to redness, irritation, and flaking. Here are some things to keep in mind as we enter into the cold season ahead.

winter weather skincare

The epitome of winter: cozy knits, mittens, and warm drinks!

#1 Lock in that moisture

In clinic we often tell our patients to use emollients on the thicker side (Aquaphor for everyone!), meaning ointments that come out of jars or tubs rather than lotions that come out of pump bottles. The reason for this is that thicker emollients do a better job of hydrating our skin, and has longer lasting effects than lotions do. I recommend Cerave or Eucerin branded ointments; if you really hate the greasy feeling, then going with lotion is better than nothing at all. My favorite heavy duty facial moisturizer of all time is the Nature Republic Shea Butter steam cream. I just haven’t been able to find any other moisturizer that penetrates as deeply and lasts until morning. To combat the dry air from warm heaters on 24/7 at home, my sister in law and one of my best friends both swear by an indoor humidifer. I haven’t purchased one for myself yet but I’m tempted by this cute portable one that is great for small “cozy” NYC apartments and for traveling.

#2 Change up your skincare routine.

I’ve posted about my nighttime routine before, but now that winter has arrived, we all need to take a good look at our skincare regimen and adjust accordingly. The wind and dry air makes skin more chapped and red, so steer clear of dehydrating products such as alcohol or witch hazel. If you use retinoids, which tend to make skin more irritated and scaly, see how your skin responds with the changing weather. Chances are if you are just starting out with the topical retinoids for acne or anti-aging purposes, you need to titrate up slowly and not rush in with daily use. Set aside your harsh exfoliators and toners this season and opt for more mild face scrubs and moisturizing oils instead. If you are looking for a new facial oil to try, I’ve heard great things about the Josie Maran whipped argan oil face butter.

sun winter

#3 Protect your skin from UV radiation

One of the biggest mistakes people make is assuming that because it’s not sunny, UVA/UVB rays aren’t causing lasting damage to your skin. That is WRONG! UVA rays, which cause photoaging (think wrinkles and sunspots), and UVB rays, which cause mutations in the skin that put you at risk for developing skin cancer, are present even on overcast days.

I recommend using a daily broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or above. My two personal favorite sunscreens out of the dozens I’ve tested are the MDSolar Mineral Tinted Creme and the La Roche Posay Anthelios Ultra light susncreen fluid. I’m pressed for time in the mornings so anything that offers SPF plus light tinted coverage is a lifesaver!  It’s never too early to prevent aging and to protect yourself against skin cancer, and you should make sunscreen application part of your everyday morning routine before heading outside.


#4 Hydrate through your diet.

Approximately 50% of our bodies are made up of good ol’ H2O, and you want to make sure it stays that way even when the wind and heaters are dehydrating your skin every moment of every day. One easy way to stay hydrated is to drink water; you don’t have to drink so much that you’re running to the bathroom all the time like this lady’s crazy water challenge, but you want to hydrate enough that you are giving your body and your skin what it needs. One easy way to tell if you’re dehydrated is how dry your mouth and lips are (more on maintaining your perfect pout here). If you don’t have saliva and your lips are chapped, you need to drink more water! (Unless you have medical conditions that make your mouth dry like Sjogren’s syndrome…but that’s besides the point) Other excellent sources of water to boost your skin’s hydration include vegetables such as cucumbers and celery or fruit such as watermelon or strawberries.

shower cold weather

#5 Practice shower smarts.

This is the one I regularly fight patients on, because everyone loves a good hot shower on a cold day. I’ll admit, I do too >_< The problem is that the hotter the water, the more evaporation occurs, and the drier your skin becomes. If you have particularly dry itchy skin, consider showering every other day or switching to moisturizing soaps containing shea butter, ceramides, or other types of emollients. I like my Olay ultra moisturizing shea butter body wash or Dove soap which leave my skin feeling more smooth than something drying like Irish Spring bar soap. When you step out of the shower, gently pat dry instead of rubbing back and forth with a towel, which may chafe and irritate your skin. I tell my patients to try to put on lotion within 10 minutes of stepping out of the shower, ensuring that you lock in all that moisture, preventing cracks, wrinkles, and redness.

Let’s keep our skin healthy this winter!

2 Comments on Winter Skincare Tips

  1. Vi
    December 10, 2016 at 12:42 pm (1 year ago)

    Hi Joyce!
    I’m currently changing up my skin care routine for the winter as well. I heard a lot about Caudalie Beauty Elixir as a great face mist serum; however, I noticed the second ingredient is plant based alcohol. I was wondering how this product could claim to be hydrating but also have alcohol as the main ingredient and what your thoughts were about adding this to a skin regimen. Is it too damaging and drying or would be worth the hype? Hope you’re having a wonderful December!

    • Joyce
      December 10, 2016 at 12:53 pm (1 year ago)

      Hi Vi, great question. Not all alcohols strip moisture from the skin; ones to watch out for are the “simple alcohols,” usually isopropyl alcohol or ethanol. These are often used in toners and leave your skin very dry. Then there are more “fatty” alcohols which are actually used in moisturizers as a thickening agent; these are not drying. I couldn’t find anything in the scientific literature on plant based alcohol but because it is naturally derived it is likely better than the simple alcohols. My advice would be to try a sample of it and see how your skin responds!


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